NHS ministry hopes community health centres will reduce burden on tertiary care hospitals

Updated December 08, 2019

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We hope that the number of patients will continue increasing as the trust of residents builds with time,” NHS ministry spokesperson said. — Sara Faruqi/File
We hope that the number of patients will continue increasing as the trust of residents builds with time,” NHS ministry spokesperson said. — Sara Faruqi/File

ISLAMABAD: After inaugurating the Shah Allah Ditta Community Health Centre (CHC) last month, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) is hopeful that people will stop depending as much on tertiary care hospitals such as the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), opting for CHCs instead.

“We used to get a few dozen patients at the Shah Allah Ditta Basic Health Unit (BHU) in the past, but now we are getting a few hundred patients daily. We hope that the number of patients will continue increasing as the trust of residents builds with time,” NHS ministry spokesperson Sajid Shah told Dawn.

The special assistant to the prime minister on NHS inaugurated the Shah Allah Ditta CHC, formerly the BHU, on Nov 29. Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who represents the constituency that Shah Allah Ditta is a part of, had praised the ministry and prophesised that the Islamabad Capital Territory healthcare model would go a long way in the health and development of the country.

According to a ministry document available with Dawn, a number of features and facilities have been added to the CHC including wheelchair ramps to access the buildings, a formal reception, a laboratory and a diagnostics rooms. Security cameras have also been installed.

In addition to pathological testing facilities available at the BHU – blood sugar, haemoglobin and urin tests - X-ray, ultrasonography, ECG and an enhanced range of pathology tests are available at the CHC.

The centre also offers delivery services, basic dental treatment, mental health follow-up treatment and counselling. environmental health components for water, sanitation and hygiene and greater emphasis on growth monitoring.

Treatment for malnourished children, health promotion and counselling for adolescents, enhanced scope for screening, diagnosis and management of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, injury management and mental health, visual impairment, hearing disability, orthopaedic disability, rehabilitation support and a 24/7 ambulance service have also been introduced.

The timings have also been increased from six to 12 hours a day.

Mr Shah from the NHS ministry said the usual complaint at BHUs is that specialists do not visit, which leads people to visit tertiary care hospitals instead.

“It has been ensured that specialists, such as a gynaecologist, medical specialist, ophthalmologist and paediatrician visit once a week,” he said.

Digitised records of lady health workers modules, child vaccinations and comprehensive medical records of each registered individual will also be maintained at the centre, he said.

A total of 16 BHUs in the capital will be turned into CHCs at a cost of Rs2 billion, Mr Shah said. He added that the project will bring healthcare facilities to people’s doorsteps and reduce the burden of tertiary care hospitals such as Pims and Polyclinic.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2019